Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Malaria prevention in schools reduces anaemia and improves educational potential in Kenyan schoolchildren

Call for improving malaria prevention among schoolchildren as first study of benefits of malaria treatment for African schoolchildren finds positive health and cognitive benefits

Providing preventive treatment for malaria, given once per term, dramatically reduces rates of malaria infection and anaemia among schoolchildren, and significantly improves their cognitive ability, according to new research published today in the Lancet.

Malaria is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in early childhood, but its consequences during the school-age years are less widely acknowledged. By the time an African child enters school they have generally been repeatedly infected with malaria and have acquired immunity to the parasite making them less likely to die. However, malaria still accounts for up to 20% of deaths among schoolchildren, is an important cause of school absenteeism, and may hinder educational achievement. Additionally, many schoolchildren continue to harbour malaria parasites without displaying any symptoms of disease. These asymptomatic infections frequently go unrecognised and untreated, leading to anaemia and, as demonstrated for the first time in this study, impaired performance in school.

School-based health programs have been shown to work well in combating other diseases, such as worm infections, but less is known about their role in tackling malaria. Yet more children are now attending school than ever before and governments are increasingly recognising the importance of child health for educational achievement.

A multi-disciplinary team of Kenyan and British researchers investigated the impact of IPT, a new method of tackling malaria which involves the mass administration of a full course of an anti-malarial drug irrespective of whether children are infected. They assessed whether IPT could reduce the prevalence of anaemia, and improve classroom attention and educational achievement in schoolchildren. They carried out a randomised, placebo-controlled trial of IPT in 30 primary schools in a rural area of high malaria transmission in western Kenya. In total, 4916 children, aged 5-18 years, received three treatments (sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine combined with amodiaquine, or a dual placebo) at four-monthly intervals, once each school term. The impact of treatment was assessed through cross-sectional surveys 12 months later.

IPT dramatically reduced the occurrence of malaria infection in schoolchildren. The risk of anaemia was halved among those receiving IPT compared with the controls, and significant improvements were also seen in class-based tests of sustained attention among those receiving IPT. No impact was observed for educational achievement.

Dr. Matthew Jukes, Assistant Professor of International Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, worked on the study and comments: ‘Although it has long been suspected that malaria impairs school performance, this is the first study to provide evidence of a direct link between malaria and reduced attention in class. These results indicate that malaria infection may hinder learning and its prevention could be important to enhance the educational potential of schoolchildren.’

Dr. Siân Clarke, a Lecturer in Malaria Research and Control at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, comments: ‘Our findings highlight the neglected burden of malaria in older children, and reveal that malaria infection in schoolchildren may have more profound consequences than previously appreciated. Preventing malaria could have important health and cognitive benefits for African schoolchildren and deserves more attention. These results show us that intermittent preventive treatment in schools is a novel and effective means to address this problem.’

The findings of the study have particular relevance for the global ‘Education for All’ initiative which aims to achieve universal school enrolment and enhance schooling.

The intervention could prove a valuable and affordable addition to realising ‘Education for All’ goals through school health and nutrition programmes which already provide treatments against worm infections. School-age children represent 26% of Africa’s population where 94% of children go to school. Numerically, this represents up to191 million children who could benefit from a systematic approach to school-based malaria control, which could include IPT.

Dr. Simon Brooker, a Reader in Tropical Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine adds: ‘For a small financial investment the potential gains from the approach of IPT are extremely attractive. An important next step will be to work with government and development partners in Africa to investigate further the feasibility and cost- effectiveness of scaling up an IPT package within the context of school health programmes’.

The trial was funded by the Gates Malaria Partnership which is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Norwegian Education Trust Fund and multi-donor Education Development Programme Fund of the World Bank; DBL Centre for Health Research and Development; and the Wellcome Trust.

For further information, or to interview the report authors in the UK or Kenya, please contact the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Press Office on +44 (0)207 927 2073/2802 or email or

Effect of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria on health and education in schoolchildren: a cluster-randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Siân E Clarke (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – LSHTM), Matthew CH Jukes (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA), J Kiambo Njagi (Division of Malaria Control Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya), Lincoln Khasakhala (African Mental Health Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya), Bonnie Cundill (LSHTM), Julius Otido (University of Nairobi Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, Kenya (UNITID), Christopher Crudder (LSHTM), Benson BA Estambale (UNITID), Simon Brooker (LSHTM and KEMRI-Wellcome Collaborative Programme, Kenya).

Lindsay Wright | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>